“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”
There are many important things in life.
Your family and friends. A hobby perhaps. Working out and staying healthy. The most important relationship in your life. And reading, learning and growing as a person.
But finding the time for what is most important in life is not always easy. It sometimes feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
But even if it may not feel like it, there are often ways to improve how you use your attention and your time. This week I’d like to share 6 of the best questions I have found for doing just that and for shaking yourself out of a rut.
1. What are the top 3 most important priorities in my life right now?
With a lack of focus on what is most important in your life it becomes easy to spend too much time and energy on aimless actions or work. On things that aren’t really that important but you do out of old habit or because of other unhelpful reasons.
To keep your attention in the right place it is essential to remind yourself every day of what is truly most important to you.
So ask yourself: what are the top 3 most important priorities in my life right now?
Write those three things down on two notes and put one in your workspace and the other one on your bedside table.
2. What are the 1-3 most common distractions that keep me from doing my work in a focused way?
Figure out how you can prevent those things from distracting you. It could be by:
- Shutting the door to your office.
- Putting your phone in silent mode.
- Having notifications for your email or instant messaging program/app shut off.
3. What are the 1-3 most common distractions that keep me from having quality time with the people closest to me?
The answer could for instance be your smart phone, TV-shows you just watch out of routine and not because you like them very much or bringing your work back home.
Then figure out how you can reduce or eliminate those distractions.
4. What is one healthy limit I can start setting in my life this week?
One of the smarter ways to simplify your life and to free up time is to set limits.
Here are a few key areas that you can set powerful and healthy limits for:
- Your daily input. Reduce the number of blogs, newsletters, magazines, book clubs, podcasts, TV-shows etc. you follow. Just keep the ones you are really getting something out of.
- Email. Just check and process your email during one chunk of time once per day. Instead of checking it 10 times or more each day.
- Social activities. Write down a list of the social activities you are involved in after school or work. Maybe you are involved in a club or an activity that it is not as fun or rewarding as it used to be. Maybe you want to rearrange your priorities a bit to focus on something else this fall.
5. How can I minimize or eliminate one thing I may have missed?
What else can you eliminate or minimize besides the things listed above? Some meetings at work or in school? Redditing or some online forum you hang out on a lot?
Really question and reconsider your own daily and weekly habits regularly instead of moving along in the same old tracks just because it is what you usually do.
6. What is one piece of unnoticed or misused piece of free time during my regular day?
There is often quite a bit of open travel- or waiting-time during a year.
What will you use such time for as we go into the fall this year?
Perhaps you would like to read more while riding the train or while waiting for a meeting to start. I, for example, often listen to podcasts while I’m out and about or while waiting for a meeting.
Even if you only have 10-20 minutes of commuting time each day you still have a many, many hours in a year that you may want to, at least partly, use in a new way.